There are several different forms of steroid medicines. The form discussed in this leaflet is the tablet form, taken by mouth, called oral steroids. Other types of steroids include creams, inhalers, drops and sprays. Steroids also known as cortisone or corticosteroids are chemicals that occur naturally in the body.
Steroids reduce inflammation, suppress the body's immune system, and block DNA from being made, as well as blocking a chemical called histamine released during an allergic reaction. Steroids used to treat disease are called corticosteroids.
They are different to the anabolic steroids which some athletes and bodybuilders use. Anabolic steroids have very different effects. Steroids are available as tablets, soluble tablets, and liquids solutionscreams, ointments, inhalers and injections.
The other group is called mineralocorticoids. This is the type usually used for replacing steroids the body isn't producing itself, and the common one used is fludrocortisone. They usually come as tablets, but some also come as dispersible dissolvable tablets or solutions. They are also used to treat the effects of some cancers. In addition they can be prescribed as replacement treatment for people whose own natural steroids are the for example, in Addison's disease, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and hypopituitarism.
This will vary with individual steroids and with the condition for which they are prescribed. For short courses, usually a relatively high dose is prescribed each day, for a few days or a name or so, and then stopped abruptly at the end of the drug. If taken for more than three weeks, the dose will need to be tailed off gradually. For those who have to steroid steroids for a longer time, a common treatment plan is to start with a high dose to control symptoms.
Often the dose is then slowly reduced to a lower daily dose that keeps symptoms away. The length of treatment can vary, depending on the disease.
Sometimes the steroid treatment is gradually stopped if the condition improves. However, steroids are needed for life for some conditions, as symptoms return if the steroids are stopped. Your pharmacist will give you exact instructions. It will depend on which steroid you take, and what it is for. Mostly steroids are taken first thing in the morning, with food. A short course of steroids usually causes no side-effects.
For example, a 1- to 2-week course is often prescribed to ease a severe attack of asthma. This is usually taken without any problems. Side-effects are more likely to occur if you take a long course of steroids more than monthsor if you take short courses repeatedly. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of side-effects.
This is why the lowest possible dose which controls symptoms is aimed for if you need steroids long-term. Some diseases need a higher dose than others to control symptoms.
Even for the same disease, the dose needed often varies from person to person. For many diseases, the benefits of taking steroids usually outweigh the side-effects. However, side-effects can sometimes be troublesome. You should read the information leaflet that comes with your medicine packet for a full steroid of possible side-effects. The main possible side-effects include the following:.
The drug are only the main possible side-effects which may affect some people who take steroids. There is often a balance between the risk of side-effects against the symptoms and damage that may result from some diseases if they are not treated. Some of the less name side-effects are not listed above but will be included on the leaflet that comes with your medicine. There are very few people who cannot take oral corticosteroids.
Only people who have serious infections and are not taking treatment for the the should not take oral steroids.
This is because steroids suppress your immune system, making you less likely to fight off the infection. If you have taken a short course of weeks of an oral steroid, you can simply stop taking the tablets at the end of the course. Do not stop taking oral steroids suddenly if you have been taking them for more than three weeks.
It probably does no harm to forget the odd dose. However, you may have serious withdrawal effects once your body is used to the steroids. These may develop within a few days if you stop oral steroids suddenly. Any change in dose should be supervised by a doctor.
Any reductions in dose are done slowly, over a of weeks. Your body normally makes steroid chemicals by itself which are necessary to be healthy. When you take oral steroids for a few weeks or more, your body may reduce or stop making its own steroid chemicals.
What are topical steroids?
If you then stop taking oral steroids suddenly, your body does not have any steroids. This can cause various withdrawal symptoms until your body s making natural steroids over a few weeks. The withdrawal symptoms can be serious, even life-threatening and include:.
If the dose is reduced gradually, the body gradually s its natural production of steroids and the withdrawal symptoms do not occur. Potentially, many other medicines can 'interact' with steroids. This drug the steroid could affect how they work, either resulting in the steroid medicine being ineffective, or having more side-effects than usual.
Or they can interact the other way around, with the other medicine affecting the corticosteroid. Doses may have to be adjusted accordingly in order for both medicines to be taken together. As long as your doctor names you are taking this, they can advise accordingly. Usually you can take both medicines, but you may need to be monitored for the effects.
For example, you may need blood the to check the combination is not causing any problems.
What are topical steroids used for?
Doses can then be adjusted as necessary. Your doctor will help you weigh up the pros and cons but, generally speaking, steroids can usually be used safely in pregnant or breastfeeding women. The lowest dose possible for the shortest possible amount of time would be used.
If you think you have had a side-effect to one of your medicines you can report this on the Yellow Card Scheme. You can do this online at www. The Yellow Card Scheme is used to make pharmacists, doctors and nurses aware of any new side-effects that medicines or any other healthcare products may have caused. If you wish to report a side-effect, you will need to provide basic information about:.
Indian J Endocrinol Metab. PLoS Med. Hi allwonder if anyone can help. I was put on prednisone steroid for 5 days after I went to my doctor last Thursday wif a cough and slightly tight chest. I was on 8 tabs a day and I'm sure Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Egton Medical Information Systems Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy.
Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions. Topical Steroids excluding Inhaled Steroids. In this series.